A more effeminate gay male, but generally a more womanly lesbian, who is more likely a 'bottom'.
Dressing and acting more effeminate, such as using make up, walking lightly, acting more feminine in talk, speech, and characteristics. A gay male with a limp wrist, using the classic hand wrist motions, might be classed as a 'femme' or a 'flamer'
More of a Lesbian term, it does not really denote a gender role in a relationship, though it did in the earlier days of the culture.
There is no known 'early history' of this role, though it was believed to exist in the early 1900's among 'transvestites' of that period. Lesbian culture in the mid 1900's was more traditional 'femme - butch' and relationships of 'butch - butch' and 'femme - femme' was frowned upon. Though that has changed today.
Today's 'femmes' are more about 'presentation' than about the role they take in sex. In early times, 'femmes' where considered to be more 'bottoms' or 'submissive role players' in sex with others. It was also where 'femmes' would be paired with more aggressive tops, or 'butch' partners.
That has changed drastically today, where 'femmes' are no longer looked down upon as being 'wimps' or 'too feminine'. It is now more about the 'look' than any sexual role they might enjoy or participate in.
Practice (Associated Acts): Stone Femmes - Unlike the 'traditional concept' of a femme, these are those who prefer to be the giver, the one who gives the other partner pleasure. They gain more satisfaction from pleasing their other partner, while still maintaining a feminine presentation of themselves.
For the most part, these types of 'femmes' do not wish to be touched genitally. Their primary goal or object is to 'give and please' the other.
Lipstick Lesbians - Feminine looking and acting woman who 'prefer' others of similar ilk. These are not about 'presentation', though it factors in, but about an entire persona, based on being more feminine looking, such as the wearing of dresses, using lipstick, make-up, at all times.
These types are the most 'favored' for Hollywood, when it depicts 'Lesbians' as it is less controversial, and can also attract and please a male audience.
Noteworthy: During the McCarthy Era in the USA, the attacks on Lesbian Bars helped to define the role playing. Butch partners were more in charge of 'protecting' the bar than the 'femmes', however they did participate in defending their territory.
Prior to those increasing assaults on Lesbian Bars, there really wasn't a huge distinction among both classes, but the increased assaults of that era, did foster a more 'physically tough image' of Butch Lesbians.
'Lipstick Lesbian' or 'Doily Dyke' can be used in a derogatory sense, such as that it is easy to be a 'lesbian' just as it is easy to apply lipstick. The meaning suggesting the person is faking being a Lesbian, or trying to 'appear' as one.